Star Wars: Black Spire is the second Star Wars novel written by Delilah Dawson, following her 2017 novel Phasma, written as a tie-in to the new theme park in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World called Galaxy’s Edge. The premise of the book is to set up the Resistance and First Order presence in the park during the time that theme-park goers visit Batuu, the planet on which Galaxy’s Edge takes place.
It all can be a little bit confusing when it gets boiled down, but Black Spire Outpost is the name of the settlement, which is on the planet Batuu. This settlement is what people visit when going to Galaxy’s Edge in both DL and WDW. The book Black Spire is essentially the setup for the spy seen throughout the park, Vi Moradi, and for the upcoming ride/experience Rise of the Resistance, which is set to open in WDW in December and Disneyland in January.
The plot of the book starts off with the Resistance during the events of The Force Awakens. This is only a brief period of the story, setting up plans for a future Resistance base on the planet Batuu. We then are fast forwarded four months to when the bulk of the story takes place. This four month gap allows us to hop right over The Last Jedi, to a point where the Resistance is bent and broken and they really need a good place to set up shop. That’s where Vi steps in, and a semi-unwilling helper by the name of Archex.
Now Archex is a new name, but not a new character. His character was the stormtrooper Cardinal from Dawson’s first novel, Phasma. One of the things that I was not expecting about Black Spire was that it is essentially a direct sequel to Phasma. The spy who uncovered the secrets of Phasma’s backstory in the novel was Vi Moradi, and here we are picking up her storyline several weeks/months after the end of the novel. She had been tortured by Cardinal so that he could learn the secrets of Phasma’s backstory, leaving her a semi-broken character.
Black Spire picks up the pieces of Vi after she has had time to do some healing, as well as the pieces of Archex, who was nearly killed by Phasma at the end of the novel Phasma. They are teamed together to help set up this Resistance base on the isolated world of Batuu where everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. They get into a starship fight and end up crashing, where all their cargo is stolen, and they have to try and get everything back. And that is essentially how the novel starts.
Over the course of the book the two of them, along with a disgruntled medical/service droid called Pook, eventually build up a Resistance team. And if the characters of Vi and Archex don’t suit your tastes, then don’t worry because this team comes in all shapes, sizes, and flair. They form the backbone of this story. The novel is built on the characters and that is where it thrives. I found Vi’s characterization to often be a bit all over the place, but she has a good cast of characters around her to help bring balance to the story. She’s also a terrible spy in my opinion, but what do I know? I’m not a spy, maybe she’s great.
While reading through the story though, there were several elements I was not prepared for:
- I did not expect it to be a direct sequel to Phasma as stated above.
- I did not expect it to be as much a travel log for Batuu as it turned out to be. A good chunk of the first half of the book just seemed like Dawson wandered around the Galaxy’s Edge park, describing everything that she saw and placing it in the book. It became a bit much for me. I’m not sure if it was because I knew it was a real place that made it feel over-the-top or just because it was written that way, but that is how it felt.
- I was not expecting the Indiana Jones vibe that permeated a good chunk of the novel. Although unexpected, this was probably my favorite part.
Even though these things were unexpected, they weren’t all bad. I really loved the Indiana Jones aspects of the story. It brought the other well known Lucas property kind of into the universe in an abstract way. However, after all was said and done, I felt that the traps set up in the ruins were resolved too quickly after the ruins scene with just a one sentence write off.
The story in general flowed fairly well. There were several instances in the book that I wondered where this all was going, however. I ended up questioning how there was so much still to get through, because it felt like the story could be wrapping up any minute. It works itself out, but the story does have a tendency to have an uneasy pace — sometimes we are flying a mile-a-minute and then it reverts back to a slow down, then flying a mile-a-minute again.
My biggest issue with the story is probably one that only I (or very few people) noticed, and that was the distinct lack of the Millennium Falcon on Batuu. Hondo was mentioned briefly in passing, but other than that there was nothing. We know the Millennium Falcon was brought to Black Spire Outpost before the Resistance arrived as described in Pirate’s Price, however we don’t know how that event ties in with Vi’s mission seen here. My only assumption is that the frame story for Pirate’s Price must take place after the events of Black Spire but before the Epilogue in the book, which leads right into the Rise of the Resistance ride (I assume).
For this review I listened to the audiobook put out by Random House Audio. The book was read by January LaVoy, who also read the Phasma book, deepening that connective tissue between the two novels. And she is absolutely superb in this book. I frequently have issues when members of one sex try and do voices of the opposite sex, making it often feel weird or forced, jarring me out of the story. However, January has a way about doing voices that makes the characters feel authentic. The character’s voices flow, eliminating any jarring reactions I had, allowing me to remain immersed in the narrative.
I would have to say my opinion of this book improved upon thinking back on it. For some reason I was a bit sour on the book while listening through it; I think the overly in-depth description of the Outpost was a bit heavy-handed for my tastes and colored my perception of the novel from there on out. But sitting back and thinking about it now, I really rather enjoyed the book. I loved many of the characters that were introduced, especially Waba, Zade, and Kriki. These characters made the book for me and I know it likely won’t happen but I would die (figuratively) if I was able to meet any of them in the parks.
Overall, I would say this is really a character-driven book about setting up the Resistance base on Batuu. We get to meet and go in-depth with not only the Black Spire Outpost, but many of the denizens of the town that we hear about from the park like Oga and Dok-Ondar. It is very enjoyable, if you’re able to get past the travelog feel of the first half of the book and the uneasy pacing of the story.